Since 1983 Michael Petrakis and his family have been keeping the doors open on Thanksgiving at their eponymous family restaurant in Rocky River, a suburb outside Cleveland, offering free meals— no questions asked.
It is Michael Petrakis’ way of saying thanks to the community and country that welcomed him.
Petrakis emigrated from Crete in the early 1970s and struggled when he first arrived. He told a local news station that people in his community embraced him and gave him the support he needed to get on his feet.
The family estimates that they serve between 1400-2000 meals on any given Thanksgiving— all prepared and served by Michael’s Family Restaurant staff and volunteers.
“Everyone will receive five-star service,” Petrakis said. “Here, you don’t know if the breadwinner of the family at one table has just lost his job, or whether the couple at the next table has lost their home. We treat everyone as if they’re our best customer.”
The restaurant boasts that “hospitality is in our heritage” on publicity materials and on their menus. Add philanthropy to that.